LOS ANGELES — Not every star who arrives at the Oscars strolls along the red carpet out front to the applause of thousands of star-struck fans. Some like to sneak in the back.
“It’s so much nicer. No one’s screaming,” Goldie Hawn said as she arrived at a loading dock about 45 minutes before Sunday’s Oscar show and slipped through a door that led directly to the Kodak Theatre’s green room. Hawn, a best supporting actress winner in 1970, was accompanied by longtime beau Kurt Russell.
Although the show’s producers kept a tight lid on who would be handing out awards during the show, word leaked out that a number of presenters and performers used the back way in to keep people watching at home in suspense.
And while low-key, the back door provided an entrance not entirely without glamour. Although the loading dock was filled with construction equipment, there was also a small patch of red carpet where stars posed very briefly for a handful of photographers. The entrance was framed by a pair of Oscar statues.
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Among those taking that route to the theater were Tina Fey, Christopher Walken, Shirley MacLaine, Adrien Brody, Steven Spielberg and Steve Martin. Brody brought his father while Spielberg was accompanied by his daughter.
“I should find makeup,” Martin said as he walked inside.
The Oscars aren’t all about winning.
They’re also about romance, as in Jennifer Aniston overheard backstage whispering into John Mayer’s ear, “I really love you, every part of you.”
The couple arrived at the backdoor entrance to the Kodak Theatre shortly before the show began. Perhaps indicating why they hadn’t arrived earlier, Mayer joked that it had taken Aniston three hours longer to get ready than him.
As the couple stood hand-in-hand, pre-show chaos unfolded all around them. At one point Ben Stiller sprinted by. A moment later, two crates filled with Oscars for the night’s winners were carried toward the stage.
“Wow!” Aniston exclaimed. “Do we have to stand and salute?”
Didn’t Hugh Jackman look relaxed onstage, playing David Frost to Anne Hathaway’s Richard Nixon during his opening comedy bit as host of the 81st annual Academy Awards?
Don’t let him fool you.
With three minutes to showtime, Jackman was backstage trying to shake off pre-show jitters by high-fiving a backstage worker and wishing everyone a great show.
“You’re the best,” Oscar producer Laurence Mark reassured him.
“I want to be the underdog,” Jackman replied.
Then the curtain went up and it was showtime.
A round of applause
Jennifer Aniston and Jack Black were busy rehearsing their lines for their Oscar presentations when they heard Dustin Lance Black’s name called as the Oscar winner for best original screenplay for the film “Milk.”
Slideshow: Academy Awards: Red-carpet style Both burst into applause.
Then it was back to work, with Black reassuring Aniston there was nothing wrong with presenting two awards back-to-back in the animation category. He pointed out that Steve Martin and Tina Fey were onstage at the moment presenting two screenplay awards.
“See, they’re doing two too. They’re all doing two. It’s not just us,” he said.
Cool as a cucumber, sort of
James Bond — check that, his alter ego Daniel Craig — looked as cool as 007 as he prepared to take the stage as a presenter at Sunday’s Academy Awards.
Not so his co-presenter, Sarah Jessica Parker.
“I have my purse,” Parker said with an embarrassed grin as she realized she was still holding the small silver bag. She quickly placed it by a television monitor.
As a stage manager held a flashlight, Craig had some last-minute powder applied to his face. Parker did her own powdering. then got a good-luck hug from show producer Laurence Mark.
“God, I hope I don’t blow it,” she said before heading to the stage.
We may not have even noticed, but Amanda Seyfried did when she briefly caught her heel in a stocking during that elaborate song-and-dance number she did with Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens and other young stars at Sunday’s Oscars.
“I would feel a lot better if I hadn’t,” the disappointed “Mamma Mia!” co-star said as she came offstage. Efron, however, made light of the moment.
“We’ll never be invited back,” he joked.
Turns out the “High School Musical” star had a little wardrobe malfunction of his own. His microphone had gotten tangled in his bow tie, and Hudgens had to untangle him when they got offstage.
Overall, it was a “heelacious” night at the Oscars.
First Amanda Seyfried got a heel of her shoe caught in a stocking during a song-and-dance number. Then Alicia Keys broke a heel as she ran from the green room to the stage to make an Oscar presentation with Zac Efron.
Fortunately Keys was wearing a long dress and no one seemed to notice when she breezed onto the stage with one leg shorter than the other.
A relaxed Jerry Lewis joked with photographers backstage before accepting Oscar’s annual Jean Hersholt award for his humanitarian work.
But Lewis’ presenter, fellow comedian Eddie Murphy, was silent, apparently concentrating on what he would say about the man he called one of his inspirations.
Afterward both men were all smiles.
As Murphy chatted with singer John Legend, Lewis climbed into a waiting wheelchair.
“It’s so good to get old,” the 82-year-old comic joked.
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